On the road with Gary in… the Baltics

Crowds, conferences, classes and coaches

I was only back in Paris for one day after my nice long summer holidays in France (cf. my last blog post) before leaving for two back-to-back conferences in the Baltics: EATE (Estonian Association of Teachers of English) in Tartu and LATE (Latvian Association of Teachers of English) in Riga.

Both of these annual national conferences were held over two days during the first week back to work for teachers after summer holidays and prior to the September 1st start of school in both countries. And while most of the teachers attending were from secondary schools, almost all those in my ‘Teaching adults ‘real’ English: Core, explore and more’ workshops on English Unlimited indicated that they also teach adult learners either at university, in a PLS or with private lessons for which that new Cambridge ELT course for adults would be appropriate. Maybe it’s the same for you?
Statue of Kristjan Jaak Peterson on Toome Hill, Tartu
Had some free time in Tartu after EATE and before leaving for LATE to visit the old Toome Hill overlooking the city where I liked the statue of Kristjan Jaak Peterson, the Estonia national poet from the early 19th century, who apparently walked (note the walking stick in the accompanying photo) for four days from his home in Latvia to Tartu for his university studies. Well, I took the coach in the opposite direction: a four-hour evening journey from Tartu to Riga.

 On the coach I was thinking about what I really wanted to write about in this post: a thought that I brought back from the start of my summer holidays when I went to the Vieilles Charrues (Old Ploughs) music festival in Brittany, the biggest summer music festival in France and apparently the second biggest in Europe after the EXIT festival in Novi Sad in Serbia. You know how these music festivals are: huge crowds shuffling from one stage to the other to listen to different groups. (At Veilles Charrues there were three stages, one called Kerouac after the American writer Jack Kerouac whose family originally came from that part of France.)

 Anyway, seemed that every group we saw (Muse, Toots and the Maytals, Indochine and a lot of other French groups and artistes) all said to us, the crowd: ‘You’re the best audience we’ve ever had!’ And maybe we were…?—at least it made us feel like we were. I decided that was a nice thought to carry into my talks as I start traveling and presenting again (and although I didn’t say it—should have!—to my groups at EATE and LATE, they were great). And I also believe that’s a nice idea to think about as you start your new school year and walk back into the classroom with new groups and classes: This class is going to be the best I’ve ever had! Tell them and/or think it—and maybe they will be…

Blue-sky (night coach) thinking maybe—but also positive thinking.

Bon courage, as the French say, pour la rentrée; i.e. Good luck going back-to-school!

Gary Anderson, Cambridge ELT International Teacher Trainer


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